Having Custom Sheet Metal Fabrication Done? Here Are Some Terms You Should Know!
There are many reasons why you may need custom sheet metal fabrication done. You may need metal work done on a car no longer in production, you may be building a custom car, plane or boat, or you may be building another type of custom metal item, such as a metal art piece. Regardless of why you need metal fabrication done, the process can be a bit confusing if you have never had it done. This is because metal fabricators may use terms that you are not familiar with when asking what you need done or describing what they are doing to you. Here are a few terms that metal fabricators use that you may want to familiarize yourself with when having sheet metal fabrication done.
Bending is a metal fabrication process that alters the shape of a sheet of metal. It takes a flat sheet of metal and gives it the curves, folds and dips it needs based on the specifications you requested.
Bending can be used to give a sheet of metal a u-shape, a v-shape, to create a tube or tunnel, or to create channels in the metal.
The majority of metal bending is done with a tool called a press brake. The metal is heated up so that it retains most of its shape, yet can bend. The press brake then clamps down on the metal and manipulates it into the shape that you desire. Once it has been bent into the appropriate shape, it will cool to room temperature. Once cool, it retains the shape that it was bent into.
Inconnel and Mu-Metal
When working with a custom sheet metal fabricator, you will have to decide what type of metal you want to use. There are pros and cons to using different types of metal, and these pros and cons can vary based on what you are constructing from the metal.
While there are many types of metals you are likely familiar with, such as aluminum, steel and iron, there are a couple that are relatively unheard of. Two such types of metal are inconel and mu-metal. Learning more about these types of metals will help you learn if they are beneficial for your project should a metal fabricator suggest them.
Inconel is an austenic super alloy. Austenic means that the metal is made from a combination of nickel and chromium. The biggest benefit to Inconel is that is oxidation and corrosion resistant. It is also ideal for use in environments where it will be subject to a lot of pressure and heat.
Mu-metal is an alloy metal made from nickel and iron. The benefit to this type of metal is that it doesn't block magnetic fields, but rather gives them a path along which they can travel. As such, this type of metal is ideal for use in electronics or other items where you don't want to block or deter the magnet field.
If you love the look of certain types of metals, but those metals are either too expensive or don't have the properties you need in a metal, plating may be ideal for you.
Plating involves taking one type of metal and dipping it or coating it with another type of metal. For example, if you love the look of chrome for your car, but can't afford solid chrome, dipping a piece of aluminum in chrome can give you the same look for a fraction of the price. Or if you desire the look of copper, but the copper isn't durable enough for your project, dipping a sheet of steel in copper can give you a strong, durable base with the coppery-coloring you desire.
Your metal fabricator can help you decide if metal plating is ideal for your project.
The last term you should know if you are working with a metal fabricator is punching. No, the metal is not punched or hit with a fist. Punching is the process through which holes are put into the metal. A tool called a punch press is used to punch even, smooth holes into the metal. These may be tiny holes through which screws can fit or large holes through which door handles can fit.
Occasionally, you may hear the world blanking used in lieu of punching. While punching and blanking are similar, and sometimes even interchangeably used, they technically have different meanings. If you want any other shape aside from a circle punched through your metal sheet, blanking is done. Blanking involves punching other shapes, such as squares, diamonds and octagons, through your metal, once again creating a hole through which objects can be adhered to your metal.
If you are having custom sheet metal fabrication done, some of the words that a fabricator uses may sound foreign or leave you wondering what they mean. Learning some of these terms ahead of time will help you prepare and better understand what is happening at a metal fabricators.